Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #7

March 16, 2012

Release Date: March 14, 2012
Cover Date: May 2012

Story: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, and Mark Irwin
Cover: Doug Mahnke and Keith Champagne
Variant Cover: Ian Churchill

Indigo-1 sees that Sinestro has become a Green Lantern again, and she is not pleased. Back on Earth, Hal Jordan doesn’t want to be a Green Lantern anymore, but Sinestro forces his hand by holding Carol Ferris at gunpoint. Hal attacks Sinestro, but the pair are interrupted by the arrival of the Indigo Tribe. They plan to induct Sinestro into their order, and before Carol Ferris can stop them as a Star Sapphire, the Green Lanterns are overwhelmed and taken away. Meanwhile, on Oa, the Guardians interrogate Lyssa Drak, demanding to know the whereabouts of the Book of the Black so they can locate the First Lantern. Finally, Hal awakens in an Indigo Tribe prison cell, where a fellow prisoner is absolutely terrified of their captors. Hal discovers that his guard is none other than Black Hand.

At long last, the truth behind the Indigo Tribe shall be revealed! Or will it? Geoff Johns has an unfortunate track record of half-explaining mysteries, but we might be in luck this time around; the other Corps have all had solid origins up until this point. The Tribe are the last ones left! As you might have guessed, I’m very excited to see how this arc turns out, and so far…so good!

The Tribe seems more and more like a hardline religious order: join us or die. We were led to assume that the Blue Lanterns were the faith-based Corps, so it’s neat to see someone else falling into the role of the zealot. Indigo’s proximity to the end of the spectrum may have something to do with this; for example, the Star Sapphires are all about love, but look at the badass warriors they turned out to be. It just remains to be seen how compassion can somehow be melded with this kind of extremism.

Doug Mahnke’s art really stands out in this issue due to all of the weird Tribesmen. Other than Indigo-1 and Black Hand, they all seem to be unfamiliar alien species. While I would’ve loved to see some aliens we’re familiar with, the highly detailed and unique creatures Mahnke illustrated all look fantastic. Another art highlight was the splash page of Hal punching Sinestro out a window; this was a fine way to really kick this issue into high gear. Looks like Hal is finally growing some balls! As for him getting his ass beat by the Tribe, I didn’t mind that so much; they clearly had the Green Lanterns outnumbered, and it’s possible that the mass-teleport knocked out Hal and Sinestro, too.

Now for the usual nitpicking. Why would the Guardians need the Book of the Black to find the First Lantern? Past issues have strongly implied that he/she/it is imprisoned deep below Oa. If not…why the hell would the Guardians forget something so incredibly important?

The Guardians also make it clear that they’re going to “strike down” the Green Lantern Corps, rather than just relieving them of duty (which you’d think would be far easier; just shut the rings off!). I really don’t like this, just as I’m not keen on the villainous turn the Guardians have taken. Making them arrogant dicks is one thing; that’s got some past precedent, at least. The Guardians becoming the principal antagonists of the series is just awful.

Lastly…the Book of Rage? Ugh. This pretty much confirms that each color has their own silly book, when most have no reason to. Damn it, the Book of Oa was fine and dandy by itself, and it was never meant to represent willpower!

Don’t get me wrong, I thought Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #7 was very good; these little nits just keep it from being great.

Stuck on Green Lantern

March 12, 2012

Today’s collectible is something simple that all of us enjoyed as kids: stickers!

This collection of Justice League stickers from Trends International features many DC Comics heroes, and of course, Green Lantern is among them.

As expected, it’s the modern, pre-Flashpoint incarnation of Hal Jordan. The first sticker looks like it was drawn by Jim Lee Ed Benes (thanks to Eddie Hargreaves for the correction), and the second by Alan Davis. If anyone can confirm or deny this, please let me know! There’s also a simple Green Lantern symbol sticker, and Hal appears in a group shot alongside Batman, Superman, and the Flash. (I’m not sure who illustrated that.)

Not a bad set of stickers; they ought to make many a young comics fan very happy.

I need to thank the Irredeemable Shag from Firestorm Fan for bringing this sticker pack to my attention. Aside from covering Firestorm’s appearance within the stickers, he also graciously provided scans of the Green Lantern pieces for this post.

Aside from Shag, the omnipresent Frank Lee Delano also talked about the stickers on a bunch of his blogs (seriously, how many does this dude have?!), so here’s a complete list for your reading pleasure:

Shag and Frank covered these over a week ago, but I was too caught up in that Green Lantern: Circle of Fire stuff. Bah, I’m always late to the party!

Now go out and get these stickers, and plaster them all over your math notebook.

Red Lanterns #7

March 9, 2012

Release Date: March 7, 2012
Cover Date: May 2012

Story: Peter Milligan
Pencils: Ed Benes and Diego Bernard
Inks: Rob Hunter, Mark Irwin, Sal Regla, and Dave Meikis
Cover: Ed Benes

Bleez and the Red Lanterns hunt down former Sinestro Corps members in space, while Guy Gardner squares off against Rankorr on Earth. Guy’s trying to help the human Red Lantern, and when the latter saves Guy from oncoming traffic, it gets even more confusing. Rankorr flies off into space, heeding the call of the ring. Back on Ysmault, Bleez tells her captives that Atrocitus has become a shell of his former self, and that she’s in charge now. Atrocitus himself is searching through the Abominable Zone, where his initial Red Lantern experiments took place. One of those experiments, Abysmus, rises from the ground to attack his maker. Atrocitus realizes that Absymus and his Abysmorphs (ugh) used Krona’s flesh to rebuild themselves, and the battle is joined. Rankorr suddenly arrives, and while Atrocitus is distracted, Abysmus impales him.

Red Lanterns #6 was surprisingly good…and this new issue slips back down into the mire. The Jack Moore story is okay, as he’s still trying to understand what he’s become. Things get sticky with the main story, and the confusing continuity problems.

Bleez’s rebellion is nothing special, to be honest, though there was an interesting point: it seems that the Sinestro Corps has been completely eliminated. Other than those last ringless survivors, the rest were hunted down and executed by Sinestro himself. That must’ve taken a long time…

If Abysmus is the true thief of Krona’s body, well, then that just fell flat. Another hulking zombie monster? Like comics aren’t full of those already! Furthermore, Abysmus claims he’s been buried for centuries…but Atrocitus was imprisoned on Ysmault for much longer than that. How could Atrocitus perform his experiments while he was staked out with the other Inversions? The dialogue wasn’t so hot, either, but that’s been a problem since the first issue. Atrocitus’ monologues are even worse, but again, those aren’t anything new.

Finally, Atrocitus’ “death” was just plain stupid. We’ve known from the start that his heart is no longer a weak spot due to his nature as a Red Lantern. New readers may not know that, but they do know that a book isn’t going to kill off its star so quickly.

Red Lanterns #7 also features numerous production errors. There’s typos and misplaced word balloons, and in one panel, Atrocitus’ power ring has no symbol! In other panels, he’s not wearing his ring at all! C’mon, there’s no excuse for that.

Final note: this issue is the first Lantern book to feature the new DC Comics logo on the cover. Like just about anything else in comics, it’s been controversial, but it honestly doesn’t look too bad in print.

Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #2

March 5, 2012

Release Date: August 31, 2000
Cover Date: Late October 2000

Story: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Robert Teranishi
Inks: Claude St. Aubin
Cover: Darryl Banks and Kevin Nowlan

Kyle Rayner and his assembled heroes square off against Oblivion. The villain feeds on their fear, enabling him to overwhelm his foes. When Oblivion kills Forest, Kyle’s had quite enough. He flies into Oblivion in order to discover the truth, and he’s shocked when he does: Oblivion is Kyle! More accurately, he’s all of Kyle’s negative emotions given form subconsciously by the power ring. In response, the ring created the new Green Lanterns based on Kyle’s positive aspects. To stop Oblivion, Kyle has to reabsorb the Lanterns, and he uses them to trap the villain deep within the recesses of his own mind. Oblivion will always be there, but Kyle is confident that he can keep him at bay. Back on the Moon, Kyle resigns from the JLA, but his fellow heroes won’t permit it. They understand that Kyle has overcome incredible odds, and he deserves a place among their ranks now more than ever.

This second bookend issue wraps up the miniseries beautifully, and the crux of Circle of Fire is simple: a man overcomes his personal demons, but it’s cleverly set up within what first appears to be a bog-standard superhero battle. Only at the end is the twist revealed, even though hints were dropped all through the preceding issues. This kind of personal story is a relative rarity in modern superhero comics; all too often, a hero’s foibles are blamed on possession, blackmail, or some other such outside influence. That’s why tales like Circle of Fire stand out; they remind us that our heroes are all too human, and that can have profound consequences. In this case, the wielder of the most powerful weapon in the universe had his own thoughts and feelings come back to bite him in the ass, amplified by that very weapon!

I’m not familiar with any of artist Robert Teranishi’s other work, but his slick style works well here. Aside from appropriately larger-than-life depictions of our favorite heroes, Oblivion looks menacing even when he’s in “Kyle form,” and there’s some excellent graphic design when we’re shown the inside of Kyle’s mind. Am I the only one who misses a lot of the clean art styles from the Kyle era?

Speaking of those other heroes…each of the new Green Lanterns’ place as a facet of Kyle’s personality was quite cool. For example, a Manhunter robot exemplifying logic makes perfect sense. After this revelation, it makes you want to go back and read the five Circle of Fire one-shots in a new light! I also really enjoyed the supporting cast of established heroes, especially Adam Strange and Firestorm. Each one of them had a specific and useful role to play, and it would’ve been difficult to replace them with anyone else. Some of the one-shots may have had a few problems, but the saga as a whole is still worth reading.

Circle of Fire‘s place in modern continuity is highly questionable, as is just about everything from the Kyle era. It seems that it’s been sadly excised from continuity entirely, primarily because of events during “The Sinestro Corps War.” For a brief time during that conflict, Kyle was possessed by Parallax. Do you really think Oblivion wouldn’t have reared his head if Parallax tried to muscle in on his turf? Oblivion feeds on fear, so he literally would’ve eaten the giant space bug for breakfast. But since there wasn’t even a mention of Oblivion, we can assume that the powers-that-be dumped that critical chunk of Kyle’s backstory along with so many others. It’s a shame, because the very concept that Kyle was technically harboring a supervillain at all times could’ve made for some excellent stories down the road. (Which, of course, was the entire point.) Throwing that away just seems like a colossal waste.

Regardless, Circle of Fire was a great story, and remains one of Kyle’s character-defining moments, the hiccups in some of the one-shots nonwithstanding. The entire saga is collected in trade paperback format, and I do recommend adding it to your collection.

I definitely need to give a shout-out once more to my guest reviewers, as I am eternally grateful for their awesome contributions. Reading them inspired me to step up my game, as it were. Make sure you comment on their reviews to let them know what you think! And did you read their own blogs like I told you to? Get going!

Green Lantern and Power Girl

March 2, 2012

Guest review by Michael Bailey. Check out his blog at Fortress of Baileytude!

Release Date: August 23, 2000
Cover Date: October 2000

Story: Scott Beatty
Pencils: Pete Woods
Inks: Andrew Pepoy and John Stanisci
Cover: Cary Nord and Mark Lipka

The Green Lantern of the year 1256 searches for and finds Power Girl on the Watchtower. The Daxamite Green Lantern is a bit anxious but Power Girl is secure in the knowledge that no matter how dire the situation gets the Justice League never gives up. Elsewhere, Oblivion orders his minion Kir’tik to guard his treasure, to the last of his species if he must. Back at the Watchtower the Medieval Green Lantern soaks up some yellow sun energy before heading off with Power Girl in search of the League. Along the way they discuss why an alien Green Lantern looks like he stepped out of medieval times and how there is no record of his existence.

Power Girl and Green Lantern arrive at their destination only to find a giant, black mass where the League should be. They are drawn into the mass and find themselves on an ice planet. Green Lantern is concerned because he can feel his strength dwindling but Power Girl is quick to point out that he has a power ring and that his true strength will come from within. This theory is put to the test when the two are attacked by an alien creature. Green Lantern chooses a more direct approach as he hacks away at the creature’s tentacles with a broad sword construct. Power Girl also suggests that he use his heat vision and soon the two make their way across the planet where they finally find the Justice League encased in a yellow crystal and guarded by Kir’tik and his species.

Green Lantern is a tad upset since his ring still has the impurity that makes it useless against yellow. Power Girl goes to smash the crystal but Kir’tik stops her and that is when Power Girl realizes that they are guarding the crystal and protecting it from harm. Green Lantern is incensed that Power Girl wants to just leave the League where they are but she is quick to point out that the two of them and the rest of Kyle’s team are Oblivion’s problem, not the League. Just then the two heroes receive a communication from Kyle telling them to get to the coordinates he is sending them as fast as they can because he has found Oblivion. Before they leave Green Lantern reveals that his true name is Pel Tavin. Power Girl introduces herself as Karen but her friends call her Kara.

Initially I thought I could just read this book and remember enough of the story without having to go back and read the first installment of the Green Lantern: Circle of Fire fifth week event. Turns out I remember next to nothing of who Oblivion was or why Power Girl was teamed up with this medieval looking Green Lantern. Normally I have a pretty good memory for these things and to a certain extent I was relieved to learn that my recall is not as freakish as my friends and loved ones would have me believe. So I re-read Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #1 for the first time in twelve years and followed that with Green Lantern and Power Girl and after finishing both books a few realizations hit me all at once. First up, there were names in the credits that surprised me. Nowadays if you say the name Brian K. Vaughan you think Y: The Last Man or LOST, not a Green Lantern fifth week event. It reminded me that Vaughan did spend some time in the mainstream DC Universe before finding success elsewhere.

The other name that shocked me was Pete Woods, who penciled the Green Lantern and Power Girl special. Maybe it is the inking or the coloring but Woods’ style in this story looks nothing like the work he would eventually do on the Superman titles. Don’t get me wrong. I liked the art quite a bit. I just wasn’t expecting to see Woods’ name in the credits.

Finally, Matt Idleson edited the book. Back in 2000 he was editing fifth week events. Now he edits the Superman books. That strikes me as weird and it shouldn’t.

The second realization is that the look of DC’s books in the late nineties carried over for a year or so after the calendar hit the 2000s. This special came out in August of 2000 and between the art style and the coloring it looked like it could have easily come out in 1998 or 1999. Again this is not a dig or me suggesting that the art was bad but it drove home the point that comics really have changed a lot over the last twelve years and while that shouldn’t have been a surprise it kind of was. This has to do with the fact that the year 2000 feels like yesterday to me, so when I get the wake-up call that it has been over a decade since these comics first hit the stands it is kind of sobering.

The third and final realization was how well the plot of this story held up. There are some specifics about the issue that are a little clunky but the central idea is pretty solid. Power Girl and Medieval Green Lantern team-up to fight some cosmic level bad guy and learn a little something about themselves and each other in the process. Actually I like the concept of a medieval era Green Lantern that adopted the look and speech patterns of the people of that time period so that he wouldn’t spook them too much quite a bit. It is kind of awesome actually. Add to the mix that he is a Daxamite and the character becomes even more appealing. I felt a tad silly about that actually. I dug Sodam Yat as a character because when he was introduced I thought the idea of a Daxamite being a Green Lantern to be new and fresh. I guess Pel Tavin didn’t make that much of an impression on me back in 2000.

I liked Power Girl in this story as well. She was played as the supportive older sister hero, which was a refreshing change from how most writers would handle her from this time period. Karen had become kind of one note as a character, especially when she was in Justice League Europe. As much as I enjoy the stories she appeared in it does bug me that she was played as this ball of anger and the explanation that her mood was the result of drinking diet cola didn’t make up for that characterization. Here she was confidant and took control of the situation early on, which I liked. I also enjoyed the interaction between her and Pel leading up to them revealing their true names to each other at the end of the issue. Sure it didn’t mean much because they are from different time periods but it was a good character beat and a nice way to close out the story.

There were some other bits of business that I liked as well. We got a cameo from Power Girl’s cat, which was fun. It was neat to see that Ronnie Raymond’s step-mother was working for the company that Power Girl owned. I also dug the not-so thinly veiled dig a Microsoft Windows in the form of an operating system called, “Curtains-2-K”. The cameo by Black Canary was also welcome and served to remind the reader that Power Girl played a part in Birds of Prey. It wasn’t a huge part and frankly the relationship between Power Girl and Oracle was rather contentious but I always liked it when Power Girl would show up in Birds of Prey. I also like the fact that Power Girl was wearing her yellow and white costume. I have no idea why but I like that look for her.

Overall this was a neat little book and reminded me that the DC Comics of the early 2000s could be a fun place to hang out in. By the time Circle of Fire hit the stands the fifth week events were becoming rather ho-hum but this one was pretty solid. Then as now I think Circle of Fire was a great way to expose the then-current generation to a group of heroes that were largely being ignored and despite the fact that she had been in Sovereign 7 and Birds of Prey Power Girl didn’t get a whole lot of screen time in that era. Here she got a chance to shine and that makes me smile.

One final thought; this didn’t occur to me at the time but in many ways Circle of Fire was the last story of the nineties era Green Lantern. In the very same month that Circle of Fire came out Judd Winick started his run on Green Lantern and while the artwork initally looked the same the stories (and DC as a universe) would evolve into a different, slightly darker place. Winick went places that Ron Marz didn’t especially when it came to social issues. While Circle of Fire would later play into Kyle’s time as Ion this story seems like one last party before the books started becoming something…else. It was kind of like the last party you have with your high school friends before heading off to college. That is not a negative criticism, just an observation.


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